When publishing our lists — and, in particular, the top 100 — we’re frequently asked who, among the players excluded from this year’s version, might have the best chance of appearing on next year’s. This post represents our best attempt to answer that question.
When attempting to decide which prospects to include here, we ended up with a collection mostly of 45 Future Value players with some 40s mixed in. We’ve separated those players into groups or “types” to make it a little more digestible.
The aim for us here is to focus on guys who we like, but to whom we can’t yet give a 50 FV because they haven’t done enough. Think of them like stocks we are buying. (Or, does that make it insider trading since the measure of success is our own rankings?)
Lower-Level Starting Pitchers
Pitchers who project to be solid MLB starters and who have already proven themselves to some degree in the upper minors tend to be rated a 50 FV or better, rendering them ineligible for this list. The starting prospects here are all lower-level arms and various shades of one type: guys with electric stuff, who have a chance to start, but who face questions about whether they can do it long term. Some are more electric than others and Paddack, for example, doesn’t fit that description: he’s coming off of Tommy John surgery and his best pitch is his changeup. Without surgery, he likely would’ve posted strong enough numbers to appear on the actual top 100.
Edward Cabrera, RHP, Miami Marlins
Dylan Cease, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Minnesota Twins
D.L. Hall, LHP, Baltimore Orioles
Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Luis Medina, RHP, New York Yankees
Tobias Myers, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Chris Paddack, RHP, San Diego Padres
Cionel Perez, LHP, Houston Astros
Hector Perez, RHP, Houston Astros
JoJo Romero, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
Jose Soriano, RHP, Los Angeles Angels
This group is mostly composed of bat-first, fringe catchers who don’t have such dominant profiles that you’re fine with them at first base if they can’t catch. If they can, on the other hand, they’ll be quite valuable. Cumberland has the best bat of those guys but also the most work to do behind the plate. Haase and Stephenson have big raw power and swing-and-miss issues, and will both be old for the level next year (although Stephenson, who has lost reps due to injury, is a candidate to get promoted artificially). Melendez and Rogers are potentially elite defensive catchers with contact issues that kept them off this year’s list, but they’re good bets to be on next year’s iteration.
William Contreras, Atlanta Braves
Brett Cumberland, Atlanta Braves
M.J. Melendez, Kansas City Royals
Eric Haase, Cleveland Indians
Andrew Knizner, St. Louis Cardinals
Jake Rogers, Detroit Tigers
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds
Lower-Level Corner Infielders
Most of the members of this group have huge raw power or, as with Cruz and Diaz, project to grow into absurd amounts of it. Santana quieted a cacophonous (but highly entertaining) swing that allowed his plus bat speed to play better in games last year. There are scouts who saw Vilade in pro ball who think he can stay at short, but we still have him projected to third base and think he has a chance to hit and hit for power. Most of the guys on this list, though, will be power-only beasts.
Oneil Cruz, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Lewin Diaz, 1B, Minnesota Twins
Dermis Garcia, 1B, New York Yankees
Jhailyn Ortiz, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
Hudson Potts, 3B, San Diego Padres
Cristian Santana, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ryan Vilade, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Colton Welker, 3B, Colorado Rockies
Lower-Level Middle Infielders
We’re hoping several of these players undergo physical maturation that enables their tools to tick up a bit. Vidal Brujan, Wander Javier, Ronny Mauricio, and even Lucius Fox are all highly skilled infielders who should be top-100 prospects next year if they add physicality. Chisholm, Downs, and Severino are all bat-first players on the fringe of sticking at short, and they can either prove their ability to remain there or just hit enough for us not to care. Either development would get them to next year’s 100. Arias and Gimenez were left off this year’s list because there’s some doubt about the upside, but they’re both pretty stable prospects who’ll probably make the list as they climb the minor-league ladder.
Gabriel Arias, San Diego Padres
Vidal Brujan, Tampa Bay Rays
Willi Castro, Cleveland Indians
Jazz Chisholm, Arizona Diamondbacks
Jeter Downs, Cincinnati Reds
Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals
Andres Gimenez, New York Mets
Lucius Fox, Tampa Bay Rays
Wander Javier, Minnesota Twins
Ronny Mauricio, New York Mets
Yunior Severino, Minnesota Twins
Performers Staring Us in the Face
This ended up being a catch-all for players of multiple positions and then one, lone pitcher. In either case, it’s defined by prospects who put up solid numbers but who, for whatever reason — the toolset or length of track record — haven’t shown enough yet to receive a 50 FV mark. Haseley and Smith were just top-10 overall picks, but Smith is a contact-first first baseman with limited upside and Haseley has a funky swing and some think he’s a fourth outfielder. Deichmann and Rooker were also in the most recent draft. They have easy plus power but also fringey contact and a corner defensive profile. Another year of raking may get them on the list. Avila is a smallish righty with good numbers and three pitches that flash above average.
Pedro Avila, RHP, San Diego Padres
Greg Deichmann, RF, Oakland Athletics
Adam Haseley, CF, Philadelphia Phillies
Kevin Kramer, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Brandon Lowe, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays
Joe McCarthy, RF, Tampa Bay Rays
Brent Rooker, LF, Minnesota Twins
Pavin Smith, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
LaMonte Wade, LF, Minnesota Twins
Try not to get light-headed after being exposed to so many high-upside names in consecutive order. The names with asterisks (*) are relatively liberal bets to stay in center field. Most of these prospects possess huge power but have also generated concerns about swing and miss. We either like the tools enough not to care about the strikeouts (Adolfo, Beck, Benson, Heredia, Ramos, Thompson, and Velasquez) or we saw adjustments last year that indicate they’re going to make more contact moving forward (Baddoo, Gonzalez, Lazarito, Whitley). Celestino, Hill, Sanchez, and Wilson are on the list because they can all go get it in center field, and Hill and Wilson made what we think are substantive offensive adjustments that will carry into next season.
Micker Adolfo, Chicago White Sox
Lazaro Armenteros, Oakland Athletics
Akil Baddoo, Minnesota Twins
*Austin Beck, Oaklnd Athletics
Will Benson, Cleveland Indians
*Gilberto Celestino, Houston Astros
Pedro Gonzalez, Texas Rangers
*Starling Heredia, Los Angeles Dodgers
*Derek Hill, Detroit Tigers
*Heliot Ramos, San Francisco Giants
*Lolo Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
*Bubba Thompson, Texas Rangers
Nelson Velazquez, Chicago Cubs
Garrett Whitley, Tampa Bay Rays
*Marcus Wilson, Arizona Diamondbacks
We don’t necessarily think these next two groups will ever appear on a top-100 list because they don’t excel by WAR-based analysis, but these are minor leaguers we’ve identified either as quick-moving relievers who could become a 50 FV in the big leagues in 2018 or super-utility types who reflect some of the progressive player usage we’re seeing or anticipating across baseball, maybe even working into a 50 FV-type player in the big leagues.
This is the list of dudes who will likely all get some kind of MLB chance next year and have the stuff to do a little better than you’d expect from some guy you heard might be okay. In the “ridiculous stuff” category, we have Alvarado, Graham, Maples, Minter, Rainey, and Scott. Pitchers who are less electric but also offer three or four usable pitches and some feel include Loaisiga, Merryweather, Romero, and Sheffield. They’re not all guaranteed to slot in as closer, but all of them are likely to miss bats. In most cases, these guys closed last year in Double-A or higher. Regarding Romero, specifically, he’s a candidate to get rushed to the big league as a power reliever given the Nationals’ competitive position.
Jose Alvarado, LHR, Tampa Bay Rays
Josh Graham, RHR, Atlanta Braves
Jonathan Loaisiga, RHR, New York Yankees
Dillon Maples, RHR, Chicago Cubs
Julian Merryweather, RHR, Cleveland Indians
A.J. Minter, LHR, Atlanta Braves
Tanner Rainey, RHR, Cincinnati Reds
Seth Romero, LHR, Washington Nationals
Tanner Scott, LHR, Baltimore Orioles
Jordan Sheffield, RHR, Los Angeles Dodgers
Right off the bat you should notice that four of these guys can sort of catch. Morgan, Stubbs and Wong are all twitchy athletes who we think can play several positions (only Stubbs hasn’t yet) and catch a couple times per week. We also like the bat-to-ball ability of those three guys and think catching them part-time means they don’t wear out like most catcher bats do. Essentially, if you’re looking for the next Austin Barnes, we think it’s one of these guys. Robinson is kind of a freak athlete who can play everywhere and has surprising raw power.